We Are The Wrecked, Not The Wreckers
This short story follows a bargirl and a Farang from infancy to their fateful meeting in Pattaya. The story attempts to help us understand what has made them the way they are and what may come of their relationship.
It is a sad fact of life that the majority of bargirls working in Pattaya are cunning and manipulative. It is learned behavior. Many bargirls have other traits that are confusing to farang. Confusing, disruptive or obnoxious behavior is not the exclusive reserve of bargirls! Our world is awash with ‘damaged’ human beings. It is believed by many that the most tenacious, even indelible ‘damage’ is acquired in childhood, especially before a child has reached the age of five or six years.
The farang in their quest to understand Thai people, and especially Thai women, believe that they seek to bridge a cultural divide. We farang are notorious for our inability to distinguish between the cultural divide and the inappropriate behavior of individuals with ‘damaged’ personalities, especially our own. However, worldly middle class Thai people get it wrong too! This was borne out recently following a meeting of the ladies group at a farang dominated club in Pattaya.
I was furious when I learned that the Club President’s wife, who is Thai, had been grooming the female Thai partners of male farang members, in much the same way that mamasans do in the bars. The partners of farang at the club are not necessarily bargirls. Although one has to admit that at times it is difficult to see the difference between those that are bargirls and those that are not. The following synopsis is part of the ‘advice’ that the President’s wife gave. My partner would not tell me any of her more ‘personal’ advice!
Never tell your farang anything about your family or your past unless you have to. Get as much ‘grad’ as you can. Never pay for anything yourself. Take good care of him but spend as much of his money as you can. If you are clever he cannot afford to go to the bar during the day for short time! And don’t forget to try and stop him going out in the evening without you.
The Club President’s wife is trusted by other Thai women because of her wealth, fine clothes and powerful husband. The Thai women in the group are literally in awe of her. I have to admit that her spoken English is good to the point that she is quite articulate. She is petite, attractive, well bred, well educated and light skinned. One doubts that she was ever poor, or worked in a bar. What the fxxx was she doing grooming our girls?
Many, perhaps the majority of Thai girls that wind up working in a bar, have suffered terribly beforehand. Some have been abused since a very early age. It starts with the bullying of Thai children in their own home. “dtii dtuud, dtii, dtii, tam! chan chorp”. (“hit bum, hit hit, make me, I like it”) is a familiar cry of the I-san. If an appropriate response is achieved, the child taunts “iik, iik” (again, again). Children as young as three years old grow accustomed to a being hit. Sometimes they are hit playfully in response to their asking, other times in spite, because of a perceived irritation or transgression in the child’s behavior. However, the child begins to confuse abuse with affection and to crave it!
A little I-san girl starts school.
The bullying of her continues in the school playground. The boys, sometimes the girls ‘make’ other kids. The smaller a child is for their age, the more likely it is to be ‘made’ by the other children. Worse still if a victim falls to the ground, some kids, especially boys, will give their victim a good kicking. (Yes I know we have playground bullies in the west too). In some homes fathers, brothers or other male relatives take this tradition too far. (No I’m not going to spell it out – you use your own imagination). Now it is real ABUSE. Perhaps it was real abuse in the first place. How many of us would raise our children to enjoy a smack, or worse? Often the children, particularly the girls, are poorly fed and poorly clothed. They run the streets with no shoes, thread bare clothes. Often a child will have but one set of clothes, yet there in the baan dad is downing one beer after another. If she is really lucky she will be ‘made’ when she comes in to sleep, for she has come to truly mistake abuse for affection. And so it was with so many little girl of the I-san, let’s call our girl Noi. And follow her for a few years.
Noi goes to school
In due course little Noi started school. She is six years old. She has a brother so she will be lucky if she is kept in school for more than three years. (It’s all about money and corrupt teachers). If she didn’t have a brother she may have been in school for six years. If her family was a little better off, or she was the only child of the marriage she may have gone to school for up to nine years before she is withdrawn to work on her fathers’ (or her mother’s) teeding. (And yes I do know that the government provides free education until the twelfth grade now. However, this is a comparatively recent commitment and old habits are dying hard in the I-san). <Three years at school only would be very unusual, even in the relatively recent past – Stick>
Noi is in her third year at school. Soon she will be withdrawn. Already Noi is put to work, on dad’s teeding, after school each day. Technically Noi is illiterate. Oh! She has had the axon driven into her one bottii (lesson) after another and she knows how most of the sa-ra (vowels) sound. She tries to read but can’t because it’s too difficult. As she tries to read she speaks out loud, one consonant or vowel at a time, Gorrrr…ror…eee….dorrr…. Greed (to cut, to slit, to lance). Reading for Noi is very stressful. Her kamsap (vocabulary) is very limited. In the years to come her vocabulary will increase but her reading and writing ability probably won't.
Noi Starts Work!
Noi has completed three years in school. She is nine years old now. There she is on her father’s teeding, picking peppers, cutting cabbage and digging vegetables, planting rice or whatever her dad ‘needs’ her to do this day. Som, Noi’s friend, also works, but at home. Som’s family doesn’t have a teeding so Som will be washing, cooking and taking care of her baby brother too. Already Som has learned that he is far above her in the pecking order. Som is likely to have started work at six or seven in the morning. At four in the afternoon, chores over for the day, she’ll be off to a neighbor’s teeding to work. She may work for several hours each afternoon for a miserable fifteen or twenty baht. Noi thinks that Som is lucky, because Noi’s dad pays her nothing. With her hard earned cash Som will buy food from a street vendor. The purchased dish will likely be her best meal (read only) of the day. Noi has to eat what she’s given!
Noi, moody and broody at fourteen
Noi has started to menstruate and is getting a little broody. She would like a boyfriend. She has little hope of that just yet, her father is still alive! The months tick by. Seasons come and go. The back breaking work in the sun is making Noi too brown (read black). Noi has no money. Never has had. Her diet is poor because her parents are poor. She is slim (read thin) but wiry and strong. She doesn’t think. It’s too difficult. So she dreams. Noi dreams of a house on a hill with a teeding. A low maintenance teeding is what she wants. Just like a woodland garden in Farangland, though as yet she doesn’t know that Farangland exists.
Things start to change for Noi, she is sixteen now.
At home the abuse has eased off a bit because mum is getting jealous of dad’s attention to Noi, now that she is a young woman. Noi feels unloved. She knows about ‘love’ because the two roomed baan (shack) that her parents had built with their own hands held no secrets. Nothing has replaced the abuse from the men in her family. This noi-jai has left Noi feeling unattractive and insignificant.
Even so Noi knows that she is lucky. At the age of fourteen, Porn, a childhood girlfriend, was sexually abused by her mum, for a supposed misdemeanor, and sent to Pattaya to work in a bar. Now Porn is sick. Mai-pen-rai (Never mind), courtesy Porn’s prostitution her Mum has nice clothes, Tong (Gold necklace) and a Honda truck. Porn’s Mum struts about the village, spends too much in the store and is envied by most of her neighbors. Meanwhile Porn isn’t welcome in the village anymore. She’s a hooker and she’s sick. Worse still, Porn is now desperately poor. She asked her Mum for money last time she came home. She didn’t get it. The mere fact that she had asked has turned her into a ’persona non grata’, not just in the village, but at her own home as well. She is dead now. One day it all became too much for her. She’d been freelancing on Beach Road, because the mamasans wouldn’t employ her anymore. That fateful day an un-savory farang picked her up, did his business and then ran off without paying. At her wit’s end she took the only way out she could think of. She’d slit her forearm from her wrist to her elbow. Cutting the long way always works. Later when the policeman was looking at her wretched little body he scratched his head and muttered to himself, why do so many of these girls and lady men greed, greed, greed, (cut, cut, cut!). Sighing in his sorrow he whispered; “laow dtair kun, (up to you!”), and got down to the paper work.
When Noi was eighteen she had her first boyfriend, his name is Songchai. They moved into a hut on his father’s teeding. Not much has changed and she is still poor. Now she works on her father-in-law’s teeding. She still doesn’t get paid! Songchai, fed up with working for his father, not getting paid and seeing his father drunk every time he came back from market. Yes produce was sold. But dad seldom brought money home from the market. Typically dad came home with a few provisions, a hangover and gambling debts. When next there is produce to sell he’ll return to the market, sell the produce, pay off his gambling debts and join the gamblers that are always there. Of course he’ll lose again. He’s never worked out that some of his so called ‘gambling friends’ are ‘Sharks’ and have never done an honest day's work in their lives.
And so it is that Noi’s life of drudgery continues. The backbreaking work, poor diet, no money and continuing abuse. Now her abuse is provided by her father-in-law, when he comes home from market drunk. Songchai, her husband is much happier. He works away from home. Doing what, no one is quite sure. He comes home, once a month also broke, but he does have a shiny new Honda motorcycle. That’s where his money goes; his monthly payment is six thousand baht. It will be another four months before the motorcycle is paid off. The two days that he is home are pure joy for Noi. This is because while home Songchai takes her into town on his Honda. In town they hang about in the market, just over there by the motorbike taxi stand. There’s no money so they just talk to the bike riders, they are a really friendly bunch. The taxi riders are trying to persuade Songchai to join them with his shiny new Honda. Noi is coyly supporting them, in the hope that her husband will not work away from home anymore. However, for whatever reason Songchai resists the idea. Maybe he thinks that he’ll not make the seven thousand baht a month, riding taxi, that he earns elsewhere. Noi suspects that he has other reasons for not taking this wonderful opportunity to be home with her every day. Already there are stories circulating in the village. The gossip is that he has good reason for his new clothes and shiny steed.
By the time Noi is twenty one she has two children. Her father-in-law has died and her mother-in-law has sold the teeding so she could run off with her boyfriend. He is the love of her mother-in-law’s life and had been throughout her marriage. The boyfriend is the brother of her dead husband’s mia-noi (mistress). She had been laughing at her husband’s foolishness and his ignorance of her payback that had been going on for thirty years.
The new and desperate circumstances made Noi’s difficult life intolerable. Noi’s young husband turned to drinking. Now he too abused her. Songchai had lost his job. They say that he made a girl pregnant. Some say that it was his employer’s daughter. By now Songchai’s drinking problem is well known, no hope now of that taxi job. Things went from bad to desperate for Noi and Songchai. They roughed it for a day or two and then they found a squat. It’s a derelict hut on an abandoned teeding. There is no running water, no electricity and no money. Something had to change or they would die.
One day Noi saw an advertisement for construction workers. She applied in person and got a job as a laborer on a bridge building project. Noi sent her now alcoholic husband to stay with his mother and her boyfriend. His Mum had done well after the death of her husband and now lived with a new boyfriend in a big house in town. Songchai’s mother had been reluctant to take her son back and insisted that she would not take care of the children. So the children went to her nawng sow’s (younger sister’s) place.
The next day Noi walked into the village and joined thirty or so itinerants in the back of the twenty ton truck that was to take them to their place of work. At first she was exhilarated. Never having been far from the village before, she marveled at the beauty of the landscape they passed through. As they skirted a city she was quite breath-taken by the wealth of cars and real houses.
Eighteen hours later they’d arrived at site. It had been a miserable journey. They all filed into their communal quarters. Noi’s heart sunk. Men and women together in one huge shed. She chose a bunk and wondered what the next day would bring. In the morning they were awakened at five-thirty. Noi went to the wash house, a roof supported by poles, no walls, a steel trough and half a dozen cold water taps. She stuck her head under a running tap for a minute or two and walked off to find ‘the all found’ breakfast’. Ravenous, she ate what was placed in her bowl though doubting that it was suitable for pigs. Throughout the long days that followed the work was backbreaking. Her steely body was not quite up to the heaviness of the work. Never mind, one-hundred and ten baht a day, within a month or two she’d be rich.
It was not to pass! Before the first week was out Noi had been raped by a fellow worker. He was now behind bars and she was on her way home. She’d been fired. She didn’t know why. They did give her four days pay, the princely sum of four-hundred and forty baht, whilst informing her that she would have to make her own way home because free transport was not provided to employees that have been dismissed.
The long journey was tedious, no more could she marvel at the sights flashing past the window of the bus. She thought hard about what she would do next. ‘Why am I going home, I haven’t got a home? The arrest of my rapist made the papers. My husband is no good. I will not be welcome in the village’. At Phitsanulok, she got off the bus. Her mind was made up. She’d heard the stories. She hates men. Payback time! She’d take the next bus to Nakon Sawan, change for Saraburi and from there take a bus to Pattaya.
The journey to Pattaya had consumed all of her money. She arrived at seven in the evening. Wandering the streets, her senses numbed by the culture shock instilled in her by the strangeness of everything around her. She had only seen farang a few times in her life. Here the streets were teaming with them. She’d been told that they all looked the same. Now she knew that was not true. Some were clean, some dirty, some young and some were old. As she wandered she wondered what to do next. ‘Without money where would she sleep?’ As she reached the bottom of Central Road Noi could see the sea. She’d never seen the sea before. She hurried across the road and just sat there on a granite bench, looking at the sea and day dreaming.
Shortly a farang walked over and sat on the bench. He was speaking. Who to? Noi was the only other person sitting on the bench. Noi had no idea what he was saying, who he was saying it to, or indeed what language he was speaking. Now he was looking directly at her. Yes he had been talking to her. She had given him a glimmer of a smile. He spoke again. Noi wondered what the one word that sounded familiar to her meant. There it is again, ‘Boomsing’. Noi re-called the word, Lao she thought, yes that’s it, means “Boom Boom”. Quite involuntarily Noi had said ‘Boom-Boom’ out loud. The farang smiled; “yeah Boom-Boom”, he bellowed and without another word he took her hand while gesturing that she should come with him. His room smelt no better than him, and perhaps no better than Noi at that moment. She shuddered. The farang was talking again. He kept repeating “short time, short time”. Noi had no idea what it meant but she did know what she had to do if she was going to eat that night. She made for the shower, grabbing the only towel, she wrinkled up her nose, and had a long shower. She was in no hurry to go back into the room. When at last she did the filthy towel was wrapped around her. She sat on the bed and watched the television. Meanwhile her farang lit a cigar and opened a can of Heineken. Noi shivered. He moved toward her. She shuddered and stuttered “Abb Naam!, Abb Naam!” (shower, shower). Not having a clue what Noi had said he ignored it and started pawing at her lithe young body.
Finally she gave in to his wanton way. It was horrible! When it was over he tidied his dress, thrust five hundred baht into her hand and said; “now fxxx off bitch”. Outside on the street Noi felt dirty. This is real abuse. Already she hated farang just as much as kids who spit at them when they pass by. At least now she could eat, buy a skirt and top and go looking for a job in the morning. That night, tummy full and body aching, Noi slept under the counter of an abandoned bar. Noi doesn’t know it but she is a seriously damaged human being, has been so for a long time and that farang has just made her worse.
The next morning she ached all over. Noi was sickened by the memory of last night. She put it out of her mind and went in search of petty-aow. Feeling better after eating Noi set out to explore, she trod the streets of Pattaya for what seemed an eternity. Later in the day she was ‘interviewed by many a mamasan. Most mamasans didn’t take to her, because Noi’s hatred of men Thai and farang alike, was almost palpable. Noi, damaged yet not shrewd, had conveyed her prejudice in her conversations with them.
Noi had almost given up hope of finding a job when she came upon a small bar, a real ‘shit hole’ up one of the sois favored by farang angrit (English). There was no mamasan to be seen. Noi walked in, her posture contrived to portray confidence. She was interviewed by the proprietor, a farang. He was a most unpleasant individual. Noi had seen obese women in her village, but obese men are scarcer than hen’s teeth in the I-san.
He prodded her about, lifted up her skirt and examined her legs, grunting all the while. At last he said; “you can have a job”, be back here by five o’clock. Noi nodded”, He cussed to himself, remembering that a nod together with a questioning look means, I don’t understand. “Tee Nee, Tee Nee! (here, here) five o’clock” he said, handing her a grubby piece of paper with a big 5 written on it. Noi got the message, she was back at five.
Noi sat in a dark corner at the back of the bar, wondering what would happen next. Another girl arrived a six, still no farang in the bar. This girl pushed her shoulders back and stated that she is mamasan. She added that Noi was not to approach any farang without a nod from her. She said that her ‘chuu len” is Og. By eight o’clock, four farang came into the bar. Two of the other girls from the bar came in with them. Og explained that these other two girls were freelancers and that Noi should tell them nothing. Og added; “They are not lucky like us. They don’t get a salary and they don’t get commission on lady drinks and they don’t get a share of bar fines” “They not like us, they no good”, Og added with satisfaction. Og explained to Noi that she and Noi are paid two-thousand-five-hundred baht per month, receive twenty baht for each lady drink, and get quarter of the two-hundred baht fine when they are bar-fined. If you want a day off, or you are off sick, you have to pay your own bar fine. Deep in thought, Og added sullenly; “If we don’t get bar fined ten times a month he fire us”. Og went into a sulk, mumbling; “this bar no good, farang that come here no good!”
The months and weeks ahead damaged Noi’s compromised personality even further. The harsh treatment that she suffered from the farang in this bar was soul destroying. The grooming that she received from her mamasan and the other girls, that she worked with, were to damage her even more. Women like Noi have the emotional baggage they brought with them and the emotional damage that comes from the profession that promised to make them wealthy and happy. For many of the girls wealth will never come their way. Most of the girls lived at a subsistence level before working in a bar. Many still do while working in a bar. For every five bargirls that are happy there are two that cry themselves to sleep every night.
But what of Justin, the farang that Noi would later to meet and live with? He was born in 1938, the same year that his parents married. Their wedding had been just six months before his birth. His father’s first wife had died in 1937. She passed away in her sleep in a London hospital one foggy smoggy pea-super night. His dad could not get to the hospital for his usual visit that night because the smog was so bad that all public transport had stopped running. So he went to the pub. She had died of TB and was just twenty-one at the time of her premature death. Justin’s dad had been in the pub at the moment of her death. Dad, Harry to his mates, was grief stricken, riddled with guilt, and remained so much of his life.
Harry was twenty-four at the time of his wife’s death. He sought relief from his misery in the pubs of the East End of London and a tryst or so with the odd floozie. In time his emptiness ameliorated into an almost zombie like state of mind. He lived his life by rituals. Each night he would turn his ounce of tobacco in roll-ups for the coming day. He became very adept at this particular ritual and in later life was able to watch programs on two TV sets, and follow what was going on, while rolling his sixty smokes for the next day. He so missed his pipe, when his wife was alive she would carefully fill his pipe for him. He couldn’t bear to use his pipe anymore. It reminded him of her. She was an absolute angel, a model housewife of her day. Few women in the west would give a sou for such a life today. But she is dead. Times have changed and life goes on. Now only the rituals remain for Harry to master.
At 2200 hrs he retires, has difficulty in sleeping, ‘did I roll fifty or sixty tonight? Did I set the table for breakfast?’ Finally he descends into a fitful sleep only to dream of his beloved and have nightmares about the floozies. At six he’s up cooking bacon and egg, the kettle boils, he reaches for the gas and out of the corner of his eye he can see the table, ‘fxxx it! I didn’t lay the table last night’, he thinks. Agitated, he doesn’t notice the flames coming from the gas grill which is in the process of cremating his toast. His clothing is soiled and disheveled. Yes he does have a laundry routine but it’s on Saturdays. Harry has just three changes of clothes. He doesn’t have time to light the boiler before he goes to work so any ritual needing hot water just has to wait for Saturday. Harry has no friends. They all drifted away cursing him for not being at her side when she died. She, Harry’s first wife, had been such a catch. She was so beautiful. So kind and well mannered, everyone loved her to bits. They’ll never forgive Harry. It’s their way of dealing with their grief.
Harry met mum at work. Poor old mum was ‘on the shelf so to speak’. At twenty-three she was knocking on a bit still being single at her age in those days. Harry lonely and tormented needed respite and mum was it. Well they got pregnant, got married, got me and here I am. The name’s Justin. Pleased to meet you I’m sure. WWII started before I was two. I had a sister by then too. We’d been alone a lot, my sis and me. Didn’t know why, just was. Then I got sent to hospital to have a small operation. I was three then and sis was knocking two. We were lucky, we had a really smart house, rented of course but it was a great bay windowed semi. We didn’t have it long. While I was in hospital a flying bomb landed on the Jones’ place just across the road. It did for Mr & Mrs Jones, and their three kids. The explosion flattened our house too. Mum and sis were buried alive, though fortunately, the next day, dug out alive too. When I came out of hospital we had another house. Within a week or two, Dad sent mum and me and sis off to the country. To get us away from the bombs he said. But I expect he had other motives, he usually did. ‘Well, I’ll be jiggered; we’d not been in the countryside long when the ministry sent us our evacuation papers. I wonder what Dad had to do with that?’ Certainly being evacuated is a lot cheaper than self funding a second home in the countryside. Mum and Harry never did get along that well. He was a bit of a bugger really. Not long into his marriage to mum the old floozies came into play again.
Well, evacuation papers in hand, mum and sis and me head for the station where we are labeled up and stuck on a train to god knows where, leaving Harry to go back to his rituals and floozies. While we were away a doodle bug landed on our second house and flattened it. Some say that it was a pity that the old bugger wasn’t in it at the time. But he wasn’t, he was at work!
Life for us as evacuees was a nightmare. We were assigned to a poor family who lived in a back-to-back house in the North Country. The village was small. Everything revolved around the cotton mill at the foot of the hill. Mum worked in the mill for a paltry sum, though enough to eek out what would otherwise have been abject poverty. The man of the house was a bastard. He was invariably drunk and with that abusive too. His wife was terrified of him and so were mum and me and sis too.
Toward the end of the war the war reparations people had rebuilt our first house. So we all went home. Things were very different this time around. While we were up North Harry had turned his hand to the black market. The small bedroom in the house was full of two pound bags of sugar and bars of Carson’s chocolate. Well I and sis had never seen a bar of chocolate. Do you think he’d give us one? Your right, he didn’t! Things went from bad to worse with mum and Harry. In the end they deteriorated to the point that he’d grab her by the throat and slam her against the wall. Harry just couldn’t get it through his head that his old ways, which had resurfaced big time while we were away, were no way to run a family. Anyway to cut a long story short he pissed off when I was eleven. I guess he was afraid that if he stayed he’d might kill mum and end up in the clink.
By now I, Justin, was a bit mixed up too. There was no money. Mum was a nervous wreck and to be frank a bit of a control freak as well. Further my attitude toward the fair sex was far too chauvinistic for my years. I went about selling everything that Harry had left behind. That raised a few quid and put some food on the table. Then I got myself a paper round, started delivering bottles of Guinness and Tonic Wine to the old biddies in the area, and from that to delivering groceries, and nicking and selling lead off the roves of bombed out buildings that hadn’t been repaired yet. ‘Ducking and Diving’ we call it back home. So we all rubbed along together until I forwent my entrance to further education and went to work at fifteen. Having spent four of my early years exploiting the system to eat, I set about finding out how to exploit the fair sex in order make my life more interesting. Anything should be possible now that I have a wage packet and free evenings to go with it. You wouldn’t believe it; I’ve turned out just like my old Dad Harry!
Justin is now in his sixties. We are not surprised to learn that he has had multiple marriages, multiple jobs and many floozies too. He knew at an early age that he is fxxxed up and has spent a lifetime trying to improve his personality. However when the last wife went AWOL he gave up on himself and moved to Thailand.
Justin had been in Thailand for a few weeks before he realized that this supposedly cheap place to live would bankrupt him ‘toot sweet’ (sic) if he didn’t get out of Bangkok. He’d heard a thing or two about Pattaya. “Sounds about right for me”, he confided in a boozy mate. By dusk the next day he was on Beach Road negotiating with a freelancer. Back at his hastily booked hotel she gave him a body massage for a few minutes and then demanded 500 baht! On instinct Justin gave her a whack, though regretted it as his hand contacted her head. ‘Oh shit she’ll call the police when she gets outside. I’m done for’ he thought. He was still thinking that thought as her blade was making an elegant carving on his right cheek! Then she was gone. She didn’t want the police anymore than he did.
It took Justin’s face all of two weeks to heal. He was sick of being asked about it. At last it was healed and he returned to the hunt for a filly without enthusiasm, but with slightly improved temperament. Though of course, he still hated the bitches that he needed to help him overcome his inadequacies. He tried Soi Pattayaland and found the girls too expensive for his meager budget. On advice he headed for soi six. He walked the length of the soi and marveled at the multitude of hookers on display. He also noted how professional many seemed and noticed that every bar sporting desirable wenches boasted a narrow doorway. He shuddered. The body massage had made more than one mark on him. He was anxious. Well scared. Although he’d not noticed it, none of the girls on the soi were calling out to him. They, seeing the obvious scar on his face as the evidence of a recent affray, were scared too. Scared that he would come in and barfine one of them! Although he’d heard that the bars on soi six offered ‘short time’ for five-hundred baht, his anxiety had got the better of him. So Justin left soi six still wanting and headed for soi thirteen something.
Once at soi thirteen something, Justin started to feel at home. The farang here seemed a motley bunch, many more in his age group and mostly Brits too. He was even dressed better than most of them. After a short wander around he chose the one bar that seemed right. It was dark and open fronted. No door to negotiate. Not enough light to emphasize his scarred cheek. Cool!
Justin walked in ‘bold as brass’ and went straight up to the bar. Mamasan tried to intercept him but he just ignored her. He needed a drink and he needed now. He sucked the beer down without taking a breath, gasped for air, and slammed his glass down on the bar, demanding; “One more!”
The four farang and their freelancers had noticed him immediately he came in. Rather they noticed the fresh scar, and Justin’s size, which is not inconsiderable. Now fear had found a new home. The farang and the girls downed their drinks in no time at all and left. Justin sensed his new power, together with the beer it made him feel more secure than he’d done in days. He carefully chose a seat, for its value for his enthronement, and sat down. He assumed as masculine a posture as was possible on the not so comfortable seat and looked round the bar slowly and carefully. There was not much to see. The cream painted walls were heavily stained with nicotine. Here and there, the flaking paint revealed the original color. The pattern on the walls was not a real pattern at all; just long squiggly line where rivulets of condensation had etched lines into the nicotine staining. He figured that the bar was about ten meters by five. That was the end to end, wall to wall measurement. The stairs to nowhere take up as much space as the bar counter itself. Usable space for the punters was minimal. At the foot of the stairs was an obese man who looked as though he could do with a good wash and at that time seemed absorbed in removing something from his left nostril. Behind the bar the self-appointed mamasan sat glowering at him in a sulk.
As Justin returned his interest to his beer, he sensed that someone else was looking at him. The hair on the back of his neck stood up as he spun round and direct his eyes toward the source his radar indicated. It was a girl. She was sat right in the corner, you might say almost hunkered down as though something bad was about to happen. (well actually this posture was a technique that seemed to work for her, and one that couldn’t infringe mamasans’ instructions). Her apparent lack of confidence emboldened Justin. He walked over and greeted her; “Hi, my name’s Justin. She replied “Noi!” She said it with a strength and confidence that startled him. She noticed his surprise, and giggled. Noi wasn’t nervous at all; somehow she knew that Justin had not won the fracas that had resulted in the scar.
Here in poor light Noi looked much blacker than the Thai girls in Bangkok do. ‘Never mind’, he thought, she is slim and pretty. Not to a Thai maybe, but to Justin she’s definitely pretty.
“Would you like a drink”, he blurted out, betraying his erstwhile found confidence as a sham. Noi didn’t appear to understand. (technique again, to put him down a peg or two) “Lady, Lady Thai, drink? errrrrrr… deum? Noi smiled and nodded. Noi had few words that Justin could understand. It didn’t matter. Noi went to the bar and stated her preference to mamasan. Thereafter Justin and Noi sat together drinking and exchanging looks for hours.
Finally Noi said; “Boom Boom?”
Justin grinned; ” I can’t wait, you're gorgeous!” Noi didn’t understand the words but she knew that they were affirmative. Mamasan heard all and came over for two hundred baht, which she received with some misgiving. Now she would have to spend the rest of the shift alone with that pig at the foot of the stairs. Mamasan watched sullenly as Justin walked out of bar hand in hand with his ‘lady Thai of the night’.
As they walked toward Justin’s hotel they were both smiling and happy. Swinging their arms, and holding hands. Noi could swear that Justin even skipped in his stride a couple of times. They were oblivious of the disapproving stares. Him as white as a ‘pee’ (ghost), she as black as any her compatriots had seen in a while. Actually they made a beautiful couple, at least visually that is. Justin with his blond hair, strong body clothed in long slacks, and a clean shirt worn over his belt. And little Noi, her dark skin shining, scarce make-up, and looking petite beside Justin’s manliness. At twenty-two, Noi was losing face over Justin’s advancing years. In turn Justin was losing face because of Noi’s youth and black skin.
In bed that night their coupling consumed them both with ecstasy. Noi, long since no stranger to a romp with a farang, was surprised at just how gratifying it had been. Justin was satisfied to an extent that he’d not experienced since he was a young man. And that was a long time ago indeed. Noi drifted off to sleep aware of what was to be. She just kept saying in her head over and over; heb farang, heb farang, heb …..zzzzz.
Next day Justin and Noi didn’t make a deal, they couldn’t, because they didn’t have sufficient common language. For Noi’s part she just decided to stay, there was no way that Noi was going to discuss this with mamasan. In her mind Noi had quit her job at the bar, as she was drifting off to sleep last night. And Justin, well he just let her stay. What could he say that she could understand? Anyway, he felt secure and comfortable with Noi.
Justin knew that he would have to pay Noi, if he wanted her to stay. He had no idea how much would be appropriate so he gave her one thousand baht. Noi stayed. She was happy; there seemed something about Justin that had promise. It was a whole week before Justin gave her another thousand baht. By then she was broke. ‘Mai-pen-rai she thought, every time I want something he gives me one-hundred baht. I live in a nice clean room with air conditioning, tele-vision and a fridge. Everyday we go out, eat out and he pays the bills’. And so it was that she settled down with him on one-thousand baht per week grad. ‘After all’, she thought; ‘where can I earn 4,000 baht a month and live in luxury too, without having to pay for it?’
Justin and Noi’s happiness continued. Neither had learned anything of significance about the other. Justin didn’t ask many questions and Noi was glad of that. Justin’s feelings were much the same; even the simplest of questions about his past would make him uncomfortable, if Noi were to ask them. Of course, Noi’s stretch marks told Justin that Noi had had at least one child and therefore was probably married, maybe still is. Justin wasn’t bothered, married women had been his specialty when playing away from home during his own marriages. And so their harmony lasted for several weeks. There had been some problems but they were on the outside from mamasan and a couple of farang that turned up expecting that their months of paying grad to Noi meant that they were returning to an erstwhile celibate loved one. Although hating real violence Noi was grateful that Justin was skilled at dispatching these lovesick farang. He hadn’t hit them too hard because he was secretly grateful to them for how much money they had saved him. After all it is no wonder that Noi had stayed on so long for only four thousand baht a month. By now Justin had learned a good deal more about what a bargirl’s immediate needs are when they move in with farang. Bless their stupid lovesick farang hearts, didn’t Noi already have her motorbike and tong before she met him. Justin made an oath to himself that when he was finished with Noi he’d vanish ‘gratis’.
Something strange was happening to Noi. She was growing fond of Justin! She is truly perplexed. She still hates men, farang and Thai alike. Yet now she began to find farang men or at least Justin more acceptable than Thai men. Why? Noi couldn’t work it out. The fact is that she was getting broody again. Her whole hormonal being was hungering for insemination from this sturdy, strong and protective male.
After a while in Justin’s care Noi found herself indicating that Justin should set up a home for her. It was not contrived. She’d not even voiced the idea. At first she had found herself looking at things in the stores that had never interested her, curtains, cushions, kitchenware and more recently, furniture. Now her dreams are just like the dreams she had at fourteen, the house on the hill with a low maintenance teeding! Every night she would dream of a moobaan (village), not her own but a nicer one. She would see the villagers watching a tall elegant man striding through the village toward the finest house there, hers! As Noi came to understand what was happening to her she started to make a point of looking at such things when Justin was at the shops with her! Justin, father of three, each with a different mother started to feel very uncomfortable. He’d seen all of these signs before!
————————-The End; or is it?————————-
Thinking it through
Many of us farang have partners that were formally bargirls. Most of us have been encouraging our partner to seek to unlearn and abandon the persona that they acquired whilst on the game. Most of us ‘husbands’ are loyal and caring. We respect our partners and will move heaven and earth to help them to share a normal and balanced life. I know that this sounds extremely altruistic; but please read on.
By and large we predatory farang are damaged goods too. That’s why we are here. Most of us have at least one failed marriage behind us and many have lost much of the wealth we once had. A good number of us are well past our prime. Some, and I’m one such, became co-dependant with our previous partner. Our co-dependence was born out of years of trying to hold together our marriage with a spoilt, manipulative and scheming ‘Lady Farang’. To such men, a bargirl in Thailand is a breath of fresh air, a second chance even.
We are not butterflies, at least not after our ‘Lady Thai’s’ trap was sprung! We are lost souls reeling from decades of failed Farangland marriages. We came to Thailand to buy a bargirl into our life. To be happy again as our twilight years flash by. Our co-dependence was learned, just as the wiles and wicked ways of our bargirl(s) are.
We, and our bargirl(s), are the wrecked, not the wreckers. We have personality disorders inured from the unfortunate circumstances that led us, over the years, to our fateful meeting here in Thailand. I love my damaged and difficult ‘Lady Thai’.
We know something of the difficulties that bargirls have faced and continue to face every day until they can say to their friends “heb farang”. They know what we know, that we are fxxxed up just like them. After all who can call any man normal, if he spends his days drifting from bar to bar, getting pissed and shagging half a dozen different women a month?
By now you may have guessed that I am the author of the ‘Lady Thai Pai’ submission of 02SEP05. You have probably also guessed that Lady X is back! We are both trying again to build a relationship that works. For my part I keep my evening excursions to bars down to a minimum. I feel better for my improved behavior. Now I can reflect that my new routine is just as it was in England. You know, down the pub with my mates once a week on Fridays. Once in while especially on a hot summer Sunday I’d go to the pub for Sunday lunch. Sometimes I’d even take the Missus with me! Whatever happened to me in Thailand? No well adjusted human being goes to the pub (bar) five times a week!
I know as we all know that our relationship with a Thai bargirl can or will end in tears for either one of us. Never mind, in the meanwhile we both will have had a life that was better than either of us brought to that fateful meeting. After all dealing with the ups and downs, overcoming the multitude of misunderstandings and feeling warmth and affection is far better than before we came into each other lives! All this is true for many of us even though we know that we may well be discarded once she has all she has set her heart on. Lady Thai has goals. You have become her facilitator, remember that!
Excellent. Brutal honesty.